Episode 121: Ice and Fire
And we’re back! Jumping right back into the story, Lucien strongly encourages the Nein to join forces with the Tomb Takers. They are so close to recognizing their goal and the Nein seem so eager to help collect those pesky lodestones. Physically exhausted and seeing no easy way out, the Nein agree that tagging along with Lucien and crew wouldn’t be the worst option, right?
After dragging their feet a bit and relishing the last few minutes of precious sleep, the Nein prepare for travel a bit worse for wear. Dagen manages to get out a secret message to Beau letting her know he is fine, well hidden, and will follow the Nein at a safe distance. Bean tries to send him back to Balenpost for safekeeping but he insists “I want the other half of my money”. Ah yes, true loyalty.
An easy day of travel, then a safe place to sleep see the Nein and the Tomb Takers sharing a meal together. Quips are exchanged, stories are shared, then Beau leaves a massive one on the table when recounting in vivid detail, to Lucien’s chagrin, the epic of Molly’s egg dick charade. Just the image we all want in our minds before bed.
During the quiet night’s watch many flights of gossip occur between the Nein. Yasha and Jester lament about missed dates and first kisses. Fjord and Beau side step around their emotions but still manage to share their excitement over burgeoning romances. All this talk could fill a Whistledown novel. Lucien continues to be an unblinking peeping tom. Will keep a close eye on him.
The next day’s travel brings them a new challenge, crossing the lava river. The Nein notice that the lava river has some interesting properties. It behaves as normal, boiling hot lava with all elements…except the surrounding snow. Not water, not rocks, just the snow. The parties use a conjured snow storm to make a passable bridge across the river. The Tomb Takers take the lead and tentatively begin crossing. Yasha leads the Nein but it’s not long before a strange glow beneath the bridge breaks through and Yasha’s leg falls into the lava.
There is mild panic from both parties as they realize they are surrounded by fire elementals. The Caleb and Jester polymorph into eagles, pick up the rest of their crew and begin to take flight to the other side. Lucien gives them a steely stare and coldly counterspells their attempt, sending the Nein crashing back down onto the fragile ice bridge. Frustrated but not deterred, the Nein decide to ‘do it the hard way’ and help the Tomb Takers run across the rest of the bridge together.
The path is fraught with fiery danger but it’s nothing the two crews can’t handle. Yasha manages to accidentally dip the same leg back into lava, sustaining a substantial amount of damage, but Caduceus has her back. Veth decides to stir up some trouble by trying to Phantasmal Force the Tomb Taker’s halfling, Otis, into possibly hurting themselves. Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, the halfling resist with a natural 20 and sends a knowing glance to Lucien who adds this offence to the list of reasons not to trust the Nein. Jester also attempt to ‘help’ in her own way. After polymorphing back into an eagle, with Lucien’s permission, she spends the rest of her time attempting to ferry their goliath, Zoran across the river. Secretly, though not very subtly, she tries to tear the bag of holding right off Zoran’s back, but several failed attempts at shaking him loose end in failure. Beau leads the rest of the fire elementals away just enough to allow everyone to escape.
After the eventful crossing, the two parties rest for the day. Another disappointing night without Caleb’s tower is just the start of the Nein’s misfortunes. Apparently Lucien is a bit turned around and they waste a whole day’s travel wandering in circles. Frustrated, and embarrassed Lucien lashes out. Caleb decides the Nein deserve a good night’s rest, a hot meal, and some privacy so he sets up the tower for the evening. They get five blissful minutes to themselves before Lucien comes knocking. Caleb decides now is not the time to show charity, tell Lucien off for being a rather pointed dick about everything and slams the door. Briefly triumphant, the Nein share a glance before Lucein’s all powerful and all annoying counterspell send the Nein spilling back out onto the snow.
Mourning the loss of their hot meals, warm beds, and postponed first dates, the Nein suck it up and decide to offer an olive branch to the Tomb Takers. Caduceus shares a pot of tea and Jester pulls out Mollymauk’s old tarot cards. Who better to share these with than the body of the creator himself! Surprisingly, Lucien is game to give it a try and pulls three cards. The first card represents his past, it is called The Dream “a massive creature shatters a city” it is an image of The Calamity. The next card, his present, The Tyrant, two dragons intertwined, the one facing him is red. The card of Lucien’s future is Death. Jester reassures the edgy tiefling “That’s not necessarily a bad thing, sometimes death means a rebirth. sometimes something ahs to end for a new thing to begin.” Lucien calmly thanks Jester for indulging him, then stiffly walks back to his companions, his hand twitching slightly. And that’s where we pick up next week!
This episode was a nice welcome back softball. Role play heavy, full of witty back and forths with just a hint of excitement and danger. They even managed to land a satisfying mysterious ending there with Lucien and Jester’s Tarot card session. I admit, I was just as excited as Jester when those card rolls were revealed. You just can’t make this stuff up. Those script writers should get a raise.
In all seriousness this was such a refreshing return to DnD and Critical role after break. Sometimes a good layer of role play to suck us back into their world and their characters is needed to reset the scene. Mercer is playing a wonderful puppet master with Lucien and the Tomb Takers. He balances Lucien’s personalities so well and sneaks in those hints of Mollymauk we are all desperate for. Beau had everyone (including Lucien) in giggles with her retelling of the incredibly embarrassing hospital break in, diseased dick fiasco. This moment paired with his teeny breakdown at being lost make his character so much richer and multidimensional. Mercer has been crafting such wonderful anti heroes and relatable villains. I think now, all we need is to get Lucien and Essek in the same room.
While there was a brief encounter in this episode, the battle was mostly dominated by the power struggles between the two parties. The fire elementals were more of a mild hazard while the Nein and Tomb Takers circled each other with guns drawn. We had a classic “who shot first” scenario to kick off the excitement. Caleb and Jester polymorphing the Nein off the battle field plus the ever distrustful Lucien counterspelling them back into action and endangering their lives equaled quite a tense discussion at dinner. Compounding the power struggles, Veth’s attempts to hinder the Tomb Taker’s halfling member and Jester trying to steal the Tomb Taker’s bag of holding right off their shoulders brought tentions to a boiling point.
Neither party is willing to put their trust in the other just yet. Caleb made some solid points just before being booted out of their tower for the night. Lucien has done nothing but put them in danger and try to control every outcome instead of asking the Nein for help or offering an ounce of trust. It seems that Lucien’s “easy way” of stringing the Nein along for a ride won’t last too much longer.
There was some minor chatter over Sam making some “controversial” game play decisions this session. Sam has never opted to use the halfling trait “luck” in his game play as Veth. Some have argued that this may have been oversight on Riegel’s part since switching races from goblin to halfling. But we got a bit of a closer look at the very conscious decision to not use this trait even after being reminded by his party members. It now appears that Sam has chosen to ignore this trait in favor of role playing off the chaotic nature of the dice which adds a beautiful flavor to the role play in this party. A less sure role player may try to play to any advantage offered in the rules to see their character succeed, while Sam opts to use his wits and improv abilities to think his way out of stickier situations. And as if to fan the flames, Sam was the one who reminded Mercer about this trait to be used against the Nein’s favor by one of the Tomb Takers. I love how much chaos he brings to the table.
Next week’s session will hopefully feature another expedition into Aeor’s ruins if traveling goes a bit smoother. It also promises more conflict between the two parties possibly coming to a head to head once they have located another threshold crest or artifact. Maybe, just maybe, the Nein will remember to message Essek to let him know they will miss their dinner date with him once again. All this and more coming soon! Thank goodness it’s almost Thursday.
Don’t Miss It!
Critical Role came back swinging with week with three new episodes on their channel. First up we had episode 121 of Campaign 2. Then a brand new Narrative Telephone with guest host Mica Burton, and finally a delightful Talks Machina with guests Matthew Mercer and Marisha Ray.
Narrative Telephone was a huge hit as always. Mica slayed with her energetic and surprisingly gory love story. She even through some actual Elvish in there! Which of course is absolutely destroyed by the end of the episode. Liam O’Brien is our next host! You definitely won’t want to miss his round 2 story.
Talks featured a deep dive into Campaign 2 up until episode 120. So if you were looking at cast questions or Dani reactions to Jester’s tarot card reading, the fire elemental encounter, or the brewing emotions between the Nein and the Tomb Takers, you’ll just have to wait until next Talks Machina which should air in two weeks.